Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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Edwards was charged under the Timber Buyers Licensing Act. The information referred to each violation as constituting a Class A misdemeanor, which Edwards disputed. Edwards filed several pretrial motions, including motions to dismiss, contesting the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction. The state was twice allowed to amend the information. A jury found Edwards guilty of both counts. Edwards sought a writ of prohibition (Ill. S. Ct. Rs. 383, 381), alleging that the information charged him with violating regulations and not a statute defining a criminal offense. The Illinois Supreme Court stayed the circuit court case but denied relief. A writ of prohibition will not issue unless four requirements are met. It is not disputed that action to be prohibited is of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature and that the writ would be directed against a tribunal of inferior jurisdiction. In addition, “the action to be prohibited must be outside the tribunal’s jurisdiction or, if within its jurisdiction, beyond its legitimate authority.” This case turned on the fourth element: Edwards did not establish that there was not any other adequate remedy available nor has he demonstrated irremediable harm so as to warrant excusal from the normal appellate process. View "Edwards v. Atterberry" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Defendant was charged with the sexual assault of his 10-year-old daughter, J.G. The indictment alleged that defendant inserted his fingers in J.G.’s vagina, licked her vagina, and touched her buttocks. After his conviction, Defendant filed multiple pro se collateral challenges to his convictions and at various times was represented by different attorneys. In 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing under the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/116-3). The state argued that the controversy at trial was not whether another individual had committed the crime but whether the alleged assault occurred at all. At a hearing, Defendant appeared pro se but was accompanied by attorney Brodsky, who sought to file a Supreme Court Rule 13 limited scope appearance. The court denied Brodsky’s oral request, stating that allowing the motion would mean that attorney Caplan, Brodsky, and the defendant were all working on the case. Defendant later argued extensively in support of his DNA motion. Brodsky was not present. The appellate court vacated the denial of the motion, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Powell: decision concerning a court's refusal to hear chosen counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding no “Powell” violation. A section 116-3 action is civil in nature and independent from any other collateral post-conviction action and Brodsky’s request failed completely to comply with the requirements of that rule. View "People v. Gawlak" on Justia Law

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A motorist whose vehicle was rear-ended sued the other driver. The circuit court entered judgment for the defendant. The appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial on damages, holding that the circuit court erred in allowing admission of postaccident photographs of the vehicles absent expert testimony and that the jury verdict was not supported by the evidence. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The photographs were relevant because they had a tendency to make a fact that was of consequence to the determination of the action, the existence and extent of plaintiff’s injuries, more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence and to aid in the determination of credibility of the parties and, thus, admissible. If a jury is allowed to consider relevant testimony about vehicle speed and impact forces, a jury should be permitted to consider photographs that depict the damage, or lack thereof, done to the vehicles. the circuit court could properly have found that the pictures, when considered with other evidence, were relevant to prove the matters at issue were “more or less probable.” View "Peach v. McGovern" on Justia Law

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The Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1, imposes restrictions on how private entities collect, retain, disclose and destroy biometric identifiers, including retina or iris scans, fingerprints, voiceprints, scans of hand or face geometry, or biometric information. Under the Act, any person “aggrieved” by a violation of its provisions “shall have a right of action … against an offending party” and “may recover for each violation” the greater of liquidated damages or actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs, and any other relief, including an injunction, that the court deems appropriate. Six Flags Great America amusement park sells repeat-entry passes that use a fingerprinting process. The plaintiff alleged that she bought a season pass for her minor son, who was fingerprinted while on a school field trip, and that she had not been previously informed of, nor consented to, the process. She alleges that, although her son has not returned to the Park, Six Flags retains the biometric information. Reversing the appellate court, the Illinois Supreme Court held that one qualifies as an “aggrieved” person and may seek liquidated damages and injunctive relief pursuant to the Act even if he has not alleged some actual injury or adverse effect, beyond a violation of his rights under the statute. View "Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp." on Justia Law

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In a 2004 Chicago altercation, Vanecko punched Koschman in the face, causing Koschman to fall back and strike his head on the sidewalk. Koschman died from his injuries. In 2004-2011, law enforcement investigated. No charges were filed. In 2011, the Koschman family sought the appointment of a special prosecutor, alleging that Vanecko was a nephew of then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and a grandson of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. In 2012, the court appointed Webb as special prosecutor, 55 ILCS 5/3-9008. In 2012, on petition of the special prosecutor, the criminal court impaneled a special grand jury. A court order placed under seal “all Grand Jury materials.” The special grand jury issued 160 subpoenas and collected more than 22,000 documents and indicted Vanecko for involuntary manslaughter. In 2014, Vanecko pled guilty; the court unsealed the report and released it to the public. The trial court rejected subsequent requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/1, for the sealed grand jury documents. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court, which rejected disclosure of most of the FOIA requests but remanded to the circuit court for an in camera inspection of a specific category of documents to determine which may be disclosed. A lawful court order takes precedence over the disclosure requirements of FOIA; a requester must first have the court that issued the injunction modify or vacate its order. If the issuing court refuses, the requester may challenge the refusal in a direct appeal. View "In re Appointment of Special Prosecutor" on Justia Law

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Keith's estate filed a wrongful death and survival action against Ortberg, a licensed clinical social worker and employee assistance program counselor, and her employer Rockford Memorial Hospital, alleging that, on September 30, 2005, Keith had an initial appointment with Ortberg; that it was Ortberg’s duty to evaluate Keith’s mental health condition; that Ortberg breached her duty by performing an inadequate assessment and failed to recognize that Keith was at high risk for suicide, and failed to refer him to an emergency room or a psychiatrist for immediate treatment. Keith died by suicide on or about October 6, 2005. The circuit court submitted an instruction, over plaintiff’s objection, asking the jury to respond “Yes” or “No”: Was it reasonably foreseeable to Ortberg on September 30, that Keith would commit suicide on or before October 9? The jury entered a general verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding damages of $1,495,151, but answered “No” on the special interrogatory. The circuit court ruled that the special interrogatory answer was inconsistent with the general verdict and entered judgment in defendants’ favor. The appellate court found, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, that the special interrogatory was not in proper form and should not have been given to the jury; it did not apply the objective “reasonable person” standard for determining foreseeability and, therefore, misstated the law, Because the special interrogatory was ambiguous, the jury’s answer was not necessarily inconsistent with its general verdict. View "Stanphill v. Ortberg" on Justia Law

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Mroczko was employed by A&R as a custodian in a building where Pepper was performing maintenance work. Pepper's subcontractor, Perez, was replacing the carpets. While Mroczko was cleaning, a desk that had been placed in an upright position fell and injured her. Mroczko filed a successful workers’ compensation claim against A&R but failed to file a timely personal injury action. A&R filed a subrogation action. The Workers’ Compensation Act. 820 ILCS 305/5(b), permits an employee to file her own personal injury action against a third-party tortfeasor to recover damages for a work injury. The employer is entitled to reimbursement of its workers’ compensation benefits out of the proceeds obtained by the employee and has a limited right to intervene to protect its workers’ compensation lien. If the employee fails to file her own action, the employer may file the same action that the employee could have filed. The statute is silent as to whether an employee has the right to intervene in the employer's action. While A&R’s litigation was pending, Mroczko filed her own personal injury action, which was dismissed as barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Mroczko filed an amended complaint against Pepper only, alleging that her injuries arose out of Pepper’s construction work so that her action was timely under the four-year construction statute of limitations. The court dismissed the action. Mroczko then sought to intervene in A&R’s subrogation action. The circuit court denied that petition, citing res judicata. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Whether Mroczko had an interest in A&R’s action based on A&R’s pursuit of damages, including for her pain and suffering, is irrelevant to res judicata, which applies because Mroczko previously asserted the same claim against the same defendant, which resulted in a final judgment on the merits. View "A&R Janitorial v. Pepper Construction Co." on Justia Law

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First Midwest sued defendants for breach of a promissory note. Defendants responded that First Midwest or its predecessor had already sued them twice for the same breach of the same promissory note: once in a foreclosure suit in 2011 and once in a breach of promissory note suit in 2013. First Midwest claimed that the first lawsuit involved a claim for foreclosure on a mortgage, which is different from a breach of a promissory note. The circuit court agreed, but the appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision. In Illinois, a plaintiff who voluntarily dismisses a claim has only one opportunity to refile that same claim. Whether two lawsuits assert the same claim does not depend solely on how the plaintiff titles the complaint. A lawsuit for breach of a promissory note asserts the same cause of action as a prior foreclosure complaint when that foreclosure complaint specifically requested a deficiency judgment based on the same default of the same note. View "First Midwest Bank v. Cobo" on Justia Law

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The Diamond law firm filed a qui tam action against My Pillow, under the Illinois False Claims Act, 740 ILCS 175/1, asserting that My Pillow had failed to collect and remit taxes due under the Retailers’ Occupation Tax Act (ROT) and the Use Tax Act (UTA), and had knowingly made false statements, kept false records and avoided obligations under the statutes. The cause was brought in the name of the state but the state elected not to proceed, yielding the litigation to Diamond. At trial, Diamond, who had made the purchases at issue, served as lead trial counsel and testified as a witness. While an outside law firm also appeared as counsel of record for Diamond, its involvement was extremely small. Diamond essentially represented itself. The court ruled in favor of My Pillow on Diamond’s ROT claims, but in favor of Diamond on Diamond’s UTA claims; ordered My Pillow to pay $782,667; and recognized that the litigation had resulted in My Pillow paying an additional $106,970 in use taxes. A private party bringing a successful claim under the Act is entitled to receive 25%-30% of the proceeds. The court held that My Pillow should pay $266,891, to Diamond; found that Diamond was entitled to reasonable attorney fees, costs, and expenses, and awarded Diamond $600,960. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the damage award but held that Diamond could not recover attorney fees for work performed by the firm’s own lawyers. To the extent that Diamond prosecuted its own claim using its own lawyers, the law firm was proceeding pro se. View "Schad, Diamond and Shedden, P.C. v. My Pillow, Inc." on Justia Law

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Bingham had a 1993 conviction for attempted criminal sexual assault but was not required to register as a sex offender at that time because the conviction occurred before the 1986 enactment of the Sex Offender Registration Act (730 ILCS 150/1). Under section 3(c)(2.1) of the Act as amended in 2011, Bingham’s 2014 felony theft conviction triggered a requirement that he register as a sex offender on account of his 1983 conviction for attempted criminal sexual assault. Sex offender registration was not reflected in the trial court’s judgment. Bingham argued that the registration requirement was unconstitutional as applied to him on due process grounds and that it violated the ex post facto clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions. The appellate court upheld the Act. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, concluding that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction. That court was not exercising any of the powers delineated in Ill. S. Ct. Rule 615(b)(2) with respect to defendant’s argument, which did not ask the reviewing court to reverse, affirm, or modify the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken, nor did it ask to set aside or modify any “proceedings subsequent to or dependent upon the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken.” View "People v. Bingham" on Justia Law